Thursday, 21 March 2013

New Art of Making Books

The New Art of Making Books Conference organised by Danny Aldred, was a day spent exploring the dialogue between digital and print-based media in making 'books'. I am interested in how the web and digital media have transformed our experience of books and publishing but also created a new interest in the bespoke qualities of the artist's book, whether in digital or tactile edition format.

Sarah Bodman and Tom Sowden
from the Centre for Fine Print Research at UWE
An exciting eight-hour programme involved a wide range of speakers and contributors from art institutions and the specialist print sector. 

The whole day gave me many new avenues to explore in my own work, which I have always been aware is motivated by a desire to communicate.

An interesting fine-art contribution to the day involved the Ladies of the Press, complete with day-glo pink wigs and shimmering silver mini-skirts. Their performative take on publishing as a theatrical experience left me rather nonplussed to begin with - but when I saw their set-piece zine made on site during the course of the conference, capturing images and text to document the day's highlights and mayhem, I had to acknowledge that they are a class act. 

The Ladies of the Press in action capturing the day's content
for a site-published zine, a copy of which I am a proud owner
Rather embarrassingly, I had begun the day by mistaking the Ladies of the Press for glamorous waitresses at the coffee table! 

Another fascinating talk came from artist and archivist at the Book Works, Karen di Franco. She spoke about the thoughtful work she is doing to devise methods of digitally cataloguing artists' books and the ephemera related to their creation and showed us the marvellous resource that is the Book Works website.

I am particularly interested in the digital/print relationship because I have just launched an eBook version of my book 'thirteen days in spring: walking in relation to the kindness of strangers', on the iBooks platform. (take a look here)

Several people looked at the paper copy during the course of the day and we discussed the various decisions I had made when compiling it. I have always been embarrassed by the cost of the paper copy at £25 plus postage, or £30 for a hardback, with at least 80% of the price going to as the publishers - so a £0.99 eBook version seemed a good compromise. I now wonder if I could do something more bespoke and less glossy with the physical drawings (perhaps a limited edition handmade print version, using photopolymer or silkscreen editions). 
Conference visitors enjoying the 6X6 collection and
Danny Aldred's 'backs of books'  as part of the exhibition

With fellow WSA colleagues, I had organised a stall selling prints and artists' books. People were interested in the work but only bought 11 pieces during the course of a long day (including one of my linocuts, which went for a bargain £10).

Other stallholders included the Monster Emporium Press, award-winning graphic book artist and printer Otto Dettmer; and interdisciplinary artist and zinester Tom Mortimer. 

All in all a very good day.

Dr Adam Stock and Dr Dan Smith, performing a SF narrative
with visual and improvised aural accompaniment

1 comment:

  1. Dan Smit was a typo in the catalogue, but I might take it up as my stage name for improvised music. Quite like it, more interesting than just plain old Smith. Thanks for the post. Can we use that photo?